You may have heard of the child in the above photo.
She was born in India in 2005 with a condition known as Polymelia, a birth defect causing the child to have multiple limbs. She was therefore named after...and seen as a reincarnation of the multi-limbed Hindu Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.
For days on end, crowds of people from all over India came to see her, hoping for a glance of their Goddess.
I know...it’s weird...
...it seems that everyone, everywhere goes to extremes in the search for something special in our children... a certain gift, or a physical mark, or a high level of intelligence...whatever makes them stand out.
The Kid Who Didn't Stand Out
I read a story this week about a mom named Marla who worried that her son had no "stand-out abilities."
She wrote that “her son is not in the 95th percentile of anything. But... he is truly mournful when leaves fall off the trees in autumn, and is as gentle and weird and kind as I’d dreamed my child would be.”
Marla recalls being in a park with her son when “a freckled girl in pull-ups called out to her mom from the top of the slide, asking for juice. The mom screamed back, ‘Ask me again in French.’ The girl complied with an impatient eye-roll.”
Marla continued, “All I could feel was worry for my son, who is still just getting his feet wet in English, let alone French.”
At that instant, Marla heard her son laughing while watching two squirrels chase each other.
She described her son’s belly laugh as magical. “I believe if I could play a recording of it to warring nations, he would be heralded as an international peacekeeper.”
Marla concluded, “When I am at my best, I know there is absolutely nothing to worry about.”
40 Years, 8 Limbs, 1 Morsel of Wisdom
As I round the corner toward 40, I think it’s a good time to evaluate success. After all, I’ve been out of college 17 years and the deck has been properly shuffled.
There seems to be one thing in common amongst those who are most successful in life:
The people I know who are their most soulful, truthful selves in any given environment from the office to the backyard barbecue...
...those are the ones who are thriving; those are the ones who have achieved work-life balance; those are the ones who have filled their coffers...and their hearts.
We all have a beloved part of our personality...a silly, sweet, funny person who maybe garnered a nickname in college (ie The Tank or Yeah Dave or Shark or StinkySeth)
As we get older, sometimes that silly, sweet, funny person feels she won’t be accepted in the boardroom or the courtroom or the yoga studio.
And she changes, adapts, tries to fit in.
I shared a quote in my book, "She who trims herself to suit everyone will soon whittle herself away."
All anyone ever wants is be true to herself..and to be around others who are true to themselves.
We don’t need to be different than the freckled kid who speaks French or better than the yoga teacher who can jump into bakasana or more voluptuous than the neighbor with the fancy boobies.
I know, I know, I know... you've heard the "just be yourself" message a million times. But just be yourself is not enough.
You have to Be Your-Fu#king-Self! That means be yourself with conviction and resolve! Because the universe graces those who lead and bleed with their heart and soul.
Or, as Marla the Mom said above, “When I am at my best, I know there is absolutely nothing to worry about.”